Gustav Basson of ProTouch lauded his team’s efforts which contributed to him claiming the six-day Tour de Maurice title in Mauritius yesterday.
Basson won four of the seven contests over the six days – stage one, stage three and the individual time-trial and road race on the penultimate day.
While delighted with his own victory, Basson praised his team’s contribution in the 37th edition of the Mauritian race.
“It was a great achievement but it would have been impossible to do without my team,” the South African told In the Bunch today.
“It was so much better to enjoy my victory and celebrate with them. My teammates were just so phenomenal.
“Tony [Harding, ProTouch co-founder and sport director] did all the planning for each stage beforehand and everyone stuck to their roles.
“Each rider did what they needed to do in order for us to have this great success.”
Riders from around the world took part in the tour, though the vast majority were from South Africa, Mauritius and Reunion, as well as France and Germany.
“The standard was quite high and it was great to race there and see so many South Africans taking part.
“It was also encouraging to see South Africans walking away with most of the jerseys.
“That was a great thing for SA as well as for the SA team in the future,” he said.
He was referring to Mad Macs’ Gregory de Vink claiming third overall, Jason Oosthuizen of Northcliff Cycles winning the green jersey and “many other South Africans who won in their respective categories”.
The race organisers “apparently” changed the routes this year to “make it more challenging”, Basson said. This appeared to favour his rivals, brothers Christopher and Gregory Lagane of Mauritius.
“More climbs were added to the race which actually suited the Lagane brothers more,” Basson said.
“They tried to make it harder than in previous years. We also didn’t receive any route profiles until we arrived there.
“We just raced the race and managed to achieve the team’s goals that we originally set out [to achieve].”
The ProTouch rider said the biggest challenges they faced during the tour were not directly race-related.
“There are often a few challenges you face being in a different country.
“We didn’t have a car, so everyone [including other competitors] had to travel by bus to each race every day and back again.
“The trips were also quite long in the bus; everyone did it, but it made it difficult on the management side of things.
“That includes getting food or supplies. It’s a bit difficult when you don’t have transport.
“All of us stayed at the same hotel and had to follow a specific race programme created by the organisers, which posed challenges here and there.
“But we found out ways to work around it.”
Most of the stages came down to bunch sprints or select group finishes, depending on the nature of the course, Basson said.
During the first stage Basson said the team tried to control matters and set up a final sprint for Reynard Butler, which Basson subsequently won.
On the second day the team attempted to “make it harder” in the gutters for the opposition, as the field eventually came down to a select group.
Stage three ended on a mountain-top, which largely fragmented the field.
After winning both events on day five, the team looked to consolidate his race lead on the final day where he came fourth, Basson said.
He said a lot of respect was shown not only to his team, but to all the South African riders in Mauritius.
“All the South African guys, including the ones from Mad Macs and Northcliff Cycles, received a lot of respect from all the other places.
“That brought a new sense of perspective for many people. Generally speaking it got a message across that is something SA can build on.”
Basson and his team, along with other SA teams, will next take part in the Tour de Windhoek from September 21 to 23.